The Meaning Behind #MeToo, The Hashtag Floating Around Social Media

By: Kayla Pasacreta

actress Alyssa Milano

actress Alyssa Milano

After the media firestorm sparked by sexual assault allegations against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, thousands of brave women have been coming forward with their stories of being sexually assaulted. This week, you have probably seen #MeToo floating around on social media. This hashtag started from a tweet from celebrity Alyssa Milano, when she asked women to write 'me too' if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. Though Milano sparked the conversation, the 'me too' movement was initially started ten years ago by black activist Tarana Burke.

The response was stunning. The tweet generated over 65,000 replies and women started also taking to platforms like Instagram and Facebook to share the hashtag, some even detailing their experiences. Celebrities have chimed in with the hashtag, too. Stars like Gabrielle Union, Olympian Champion McKayla Maroney, Selma Blair, Lady Gaga, and Rosario Dawson have shared the hashtag. The hashtag represents a greater movement meant to shed light on the massive amount of women who have been victims of sexual assault and harassment. Unfortunately, the movement is showing that when it comes to facing sexual assault, the question is not if it happened but when. 

Actress Gabriele Union, who has always been extremely vocal about being a victim of sexual assault, went on Good Morning America to speak more about the hashtag. She spoke about first seeing the hashtag, "I saw #MeToo and my arm went numb," as she recalled her experience of being raped at gunpoint at the age of 19 while working at Payless Shoes. She vowed to keep the conversation about sexual assault going, so women who suffer from it are not dismissed or victim-shamed. She further explained to women, 

I got you, I hear you, I see you. You’re not alone. You’re not going crazy and you will get through this.
— Gabrielle Union

Today, Olympian McKayla Maroney posted a personal statement revealing she was raped by Dr. Larry Nassar, the team doctor for the US Women's National Gymnastic Team. She explained, "Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long."

McKayla Maroney, photo via  Getty Images

McKayla Maroney, photo via Getty Images

#MeToo further speaks to the power, strength, and bravery thousands of women have. Hopefully, the movement will continue to force people to acknowledge that the country must do better by women and take sexual assault allegations seriously.

Kayla PasacretaComment